Content marketing is an overall strategy involving your website, your blog, direct advertising, and, of course, social media. It is anything you write or create for consumer reading or viewing, and there are some newer, important “rules” about it.
You know, for example, that your goals involve demonstrating value, solving consumer problems, and establishing relationships with customers – not direct selling. You know that you must understand the needs of your customer base; you must know where they hang out online, and you must meet them on their terms, not yours.
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Social Media Now Comes First
Time was, content marketing strategies began with a business website, graduated to a blog and advertising, and then reached out to a social media presence. Not so now. With Millennials and Generation Xers now making up the largest segment of buying power, and with these two demographics heavily invested in social media, this is where you need to focus your content marketing efforts. And this is what “social first” means.
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Steps in Developing a Social First Strategy
There are some guidelines that a social-first strategy should encompass. They are not difficult, but they are critical. Use these steps as a type of checklist for a solid strategy.
Set Your Goals
What do you want to accomplish over the next 6 – 12 months? Of course, your big, general goals will be increasing brand awareness and ROI. But those can be broken down into smaller goals.
- What is a reasonable number of new followers to acquire (base this somewhat on the increases in followers you have achieved over the past year, but you will be more aggressive now, so add to that number)?
- Another goal should relate to those platforms on which you will focus. Unless you are a Coca-Cola, you will not have the time or staff to present everywhere. Start with two or three right now. You can always add later. Those two-three will be based upon your target audience, but more on that later.
- What increase in ROI do you want from your social-first strategy? Again, if you have run the numbers through your analytics, you know what they have been. How much of an increase can you reasonably expect over the next 6 – 12 months?
Update Your Audience Research
You have already developed a customer persona, but it may be time for an update. Where is that audience on social media? While most consumers still use Facebook (79%), a Millennial and Gen Z audience will be all over Instagram and Twitter. What are the income levels of your customers? Are they urban or rural? This will take a bit more research than you may have done initially. For example, Facebook users are 89% female; Instagram is 38% female. More users with at least some college experience are on Facebook than Instagram. These stats you must evaluate in terms of your customer persona and the analytics you have gathered in the past.
Using the Right Metrics
“Likes” and “Shares” are nice to see and make you feel good. But unless they translate into sales, they are just “vanity” markers. Are they contributing to your goals?
How many unique users viewed your post? How many clicks are you getting back to your site or product page, and which platform are they coming from? What is your interaction rate? Which hashtags created the most significant engagement? Most importantly, track the sales coming from each platform and even from each post. These things relate to your goals.
Study Your Competition
What types of posts are getting the most traction? This investigation will give you topic ideas and styles of posts that engage your audience the most. What brand of humor is the most popular, for example? What is the proportion of text, images, and videos they are using?
Brands that grow their customer bases and sales are getting them from other brands selling the same products or services. That’s how competition works in the marketplace. Don’t be naïve about this. You have to “outdo” your competition and steal customers.
The Content You Create – It’s Complex
Here are the things you have to think about as you craft your content
- You can’t be too promotional – you will lose followers
- Your written content has to be unique, creative, and engaging, from captions to headlines, to short bursts of text. If you struggle, best to find a writing agency like Proessaywriter.net – one that has a department of creative copywriters.
- Video is a must – research shows that consumers watch product videos and that these help them make purchasing decisions. Videos that feature team members and happy customers also engage – they tell stories, and stories are always good.
- Three goals for content – educate, entertain, or inspire
- Be consistent – You need to be on a schedule of postings or you will lose followers. And think about themes for content – followers will return if they know something else is coming that relates.
- Engage, Engage, Engage
Ask questions, post surveys, offer something for participation. The more conversation and discussion you can garner, the more relationships you establish and the more you keep those relationships intact.
And never ignore a follower who has posed a question, has an issue, or has given feedback. Use a social monitoring tool to alert you, so that you can respond quickly.
When is Almost as Important as Where
There is research out there that informs of the best time to post on social media channels. Review that research and be certain you are posting at times that will gain maximum viewing.
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Track Your Results
You won’t get better at this social-first marketing unless you know what is working and what is not. That’s what metrics analysis is all about. All major platforms have methods to do this – use them.
It’s Worth the Effort
This may seem like a full plate of work – actually, it is. But going forward, social media is far more important than other marketing venues. That’s where your customers and competition are, and you have to meet them there.